The screen-at-all-costs mentality takes an intellectual hit with the publication of a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The conclusions of those authors: “Screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT may increase the rate of lung cancer diagnosis and treatment, but may not meaningfully reduce the risk of advanced lung cancer or death from lung cancer. Until more conclusive data are available, asymptomatic individuals should not be screened outside of clinical research studies that have a reasonable likelihood of further clarifying the potential benefits and risks.”
Back in October, another study claimed quite the opposite, and many journalists failed to report with balance on those findings. (See summary on 8 stories on HealthNewsReview.org.) One journalist on the listserv of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) has already pointed out this morning that some news organizations will have difficulty explaining the apparent flip-flopping findings today – if they did a naive job in October. Mike Taibbi of NBC News even went on the air in the fall reporting on his own CT scan after a life of smoking, and ended with a personal endorsement of the procedure. No spots on his lungs but now egg on his face.
One who wouldn’t have a tough time explaining the latest study is former Miami Herald reporter Jacob Goldstein, who was recognized on HealthNewsReview.org for his excellent story in October. We’ve just learned that his excellence led the Wall Street Journal to lure him away as their first health news blogger.